Many will agree that recording deals are one of the major factors hindering Ghanaian talents from achieving excellence. Even talent hunt shows which have given juicy recording deals to its winners over the years haven’t been able to support them to the top.
Ghanaian record labels are not enjoying the best of times with artistes leaving them abruptly and not honouring their contracts. On the flip side, the average artiste will be enthusiastic to tell you that they have “divorced” the record label they were formerly signed to because of unfavourable contractual clauses.
The likes of Richie Mensah’s Lynx Entertainment, over the years, have shown they mean business with great managerial skills with their artistes.
In general, the Ghana music industry appears to lack proper artiste management and necessary frameworks to help the industry grow. A few artistes understand the work they do and know how important it is to keep their brands intact by working with a great management team.
In this report, Ghanaweb.com takes a look at artistes who have parted ways with their record labels and are magnificently hitting the international market independently.
CEO of Burniton Music Group, Livingstone Satekla, arguably became big after his departure from his former management label, Samini Music/High-Grade Family.
After leaving the label years back, Stonebwoy had nominations in all major categories in the 2015 VGMA’s which got him sweeping the topmost award – Artiste of the Year.
On the same night, Bhim – as he is affectionately called – won two other awards; Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year and Reggae/Dancehall Song of the Year.
In that same year, Stonebwoy beat Sarkodie, AKA, Yemi Alade and WizKid to win the Best International Act – Africa at the 2015 BET Awards.
One of the main highlights of Stonebwoy’s breakthrough in 2015 was in November when he joined Jamaican legendary reggae group, Morgan Heritage, on their European tour dubbed “Strictly Root”.
The tour saw Stonebwoy perform at Tivolivredenburg Utrecht, Metropole Hall Lausanne, Switzerland and at De Vaartkapoen Bruxelles Brussel, Belgium. He became the second Ghanaian Grammy nominee after an album he was featured on earned a nomination at the 2018 Grammys.
Rated on the global music scene as one of the best reggae dancehall exports from Africa, Stonebwoy was crowned the Reggae Dancehall Artist of the Year at the 2019 edition of the Vodafone Ghana Music Award for the fifth time, beating his “new friend” Shatta Wale.
Stonebwoy after leaving High-Grade Family is credited with two albums, Necessary Evil and Epistles of Mama.
Under High-Grade Family, Stonebwoy recorded his first hit single “Climax” featuring Samini and subsequently “Ghetto Love” featuring Irene Logan. Both songs earned him nominations at the Ghana Music Awards. After this exposure, he released his debut album “Grade 1 Album”.
Stonebwoy also signed a new deal with Zylofon music in June 2017 but the contract technically ended on May 18, 2019.
Another musical artiste who has done incredibly well after a break up from his former label is Osei Kweku Vincent known as Strongman. After two years of working together, Strongman and Sarkcess Music parted ways in April this year.
The label, owned by award-winning rapper Sarkodie, signed the young talent in March 2017 with the aim of helping marketing his enormous talent.
According to the rapper, his time with SarkCess Music was rough and nothing he did was good enough.
After announcing his own label “Strong Empire” same month, Strongman has been crashing the airwaves with hits like 21st Century, Ups and Downs, King of Gods and Obi P3 within the few months he left Sarkcess Music.
Under SarkCess Music, Strongman made some successes; he released an EP titled “Still That 9igga” that won the “New Lord” award at the 2017 4Syte Music Video Awards; “Best Rapper” award at the maiden edition of the Ghana Music Awards SA (South Africa); and released a few hit singles including “Transformer” featuring Akwaboah and “Baby Girl” featuring Kuami Eugene. He also earned a nomination at this year’s Vodafone Ghana Music Awards for Hiplife Song of the Year with “My Baby”.
After five years of building a successful music career with Samini’s record label, Martin King Arthur popularly known as Kofi Kinaata also left saying he needed a serious label to manage him.
Kofi Kinaata under High-Grade Family released several hit songs including Susuka, Confession, Time No Dey, and Made in Tadi among others.
Samini and Tony Pun signed Kofi Kinaata unto the Samini Music/High-Grade Family record label in 2013. After the Takoradi “darling boy” left the label, he released “Single and Free” in the dying days of 2018 after everybody thought he would not get any hit song.
Kinaata has come out with great tunes like The Whole Show, Never Again and Adam and Eve since he became an independent artiste.
The legendary rapper who believes that he was born with music has been glued to his game for 20 years with solid tunes.
Obrafour, who was helped by Hammer to secure a deal with Abraham Ohene Djan (OM Studios) and in late 1999 with his first album – Pae mu ka – has been a fantastic artiste.
‘Pae mu ka’ covered various aspects of entertainment and society with songs like the title track, Yaanom, Aden, Agoro no Aso, and Kokonsa. He was adjudged the Rapper of the Year, New Artiste of the Year and Best Hiplife Song at the 2000 Ghana Music Awards.
When Obrafour left the Last 2 Records, he decided in 2004 to use his record label, Execution Entertainment (which had been responsible for his last three albums), to expose new talents on the Ghana music scene. He produced ‘Execution Diary’ with the help of Hammer which was the first major compilation album involving hiplife artistes by another hiplife artiste.
The LP had songs which introduced relatively new hiplife foot soldiers like Kwaw Kese, Hot Core, Dogo and further enhanced the careers of Tinny. There was also Okyeame Quame with, 4×4 and Yoggi Doggi.
Obrafour’s fame transcends the borders of Ghana as he has performed in Europe as well as the US. His concerts and performances are to behold.
He has also helped bring into the limelight Tinny, Dogo, Yaw Labito and KGPM. In 2007, his album ‘Heavy’ won him three awards including Hiplife Song, Music Video of the Year, and Hiplife Artist of the Year.